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God dammit, I hate when I assume I'm going to hate a band before I sit down to listen to them/write the review, and then end up changing opinions mid-review. Doesn't do wonders for a man's ego, I'll tell you that.
Anyway, Axxis are a German Power Metal band who are juuuuuust barely over the "Metal" borderline, almost falling into the hugely annoying poppy Glam influence that plagues this album to the point where I almost want to knock it down a letter grade. But I can't help it, since this is, sigh, actually pretty good, despite the gayness of it all. This is really, REALLY generic and derivative stuff, taking cues from a bunch of bands that suck now (Gamma Ray, Freedom Call, Nocturnal Rites, Mob Rules) and melding them into the pseudo-Power Metal fluff excess style of Paradise in Flames. The vocalist sounds almost exactly like Kai Hansen, except the vocal lines he's singing are a lot more poppy and mainstream then anything Kai has ever done. The music is more or less what you'd expect from a "flower metal" band, and although it's more muscular than Freedom Call's stuff, it's pretty damned cutesy all the same - high flying guitar melodies, double bass kicks, and catchy synth lines.
Really, if you've heard Gamma Ray's Somewhere Out in Space and Freedom Call's Stairway to Fairyland, then you've heard pretty much everything this album has to offer, but that doesn't stop songs like "Dance with the Dead," "Will God Remember Me?" and the best song on the album in "Lady Moon" from being absolutely infectious, despite the kitsch present. Final verdict is generic but fun and catchier than AIDS. I'll probably have "Stay By Me" stuck in my head for a week. I hope you're happy, Axxis.
Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com
I have always enjoyed the larger than life vocal style of Bernhard Weiss from Germany's Axxis. This face to face frontman and company have been consistently recording hard rock and melodic metal CDs for almost two decades. Each CD bears marked improvement and refinement as the band ages gracefully. Axxis originated in the late 80's amidst a whole warehouse of powerful exports from Deustchland. In '88 they were signed to EMI based on the label's ligature and entrustment for their "Tears of the Trees" demo. Shortly thereafter they released "Kingdom of the Night" in 1989 which was the most successful debut ever release by a German melodic rock outfit up to that time. Back to the kingdom of present day and several line-up changes later, Axxis recidivates and reciprocates with the big thrill and passion for rock on their road to never neverland with "Paradise in Flames". I feel like I must have taken a trip in their time machine since this CD is such classic 80's metal! As usual the music is pure & rough like the burning rain with hints of the lazy sun shining with resplendent female vocals during duets performed by Lakonia and Bernhard. Another day has passed and C'Est la vie, voila, there are more choirs chanting and orchestrations accomodating. The voodoo vibes ventriculate with variegation due to prinking production mixed by Denis Ward (PC69) and mastered by Jurgen Lusky from the House of Audio studios. The lyrics are erudite and breathtaking with well discerned themes emphasizing empathy for everday real relationships with "Don't Leave Me" or "Stay By Me"; spiritual soul-seeking concepts like "Will God Remember Me" & "Talisman", epics like "Lady Moon", and ultimately their love of metal: "Passion For Rock".
The CD begins with the title track as an opener presaging the track "Dance With the Dead" which is just jostling. Next up is "Tales of Glory Island" recalling the glory days of Running wild & Stormwitch. Even though Axxis consider themselves to primarily be a rock band heavily influenced by the music of the '70's & '80's, I assert that they play power metal more proficiently than the overflow of overconfident Helloween clones. The guitarwork of Bernhard and Guido Wehmeyer is so reminiscient of classic 80's Helloween, Scanner, Rage, Chroming Rose, and so many other major acts of that era, who have now become rather staid and sluggish. This is seldom the case with Axxis as every song has some degree of intellectual confluence and an endorsible quality. Consider the song "Take My Hand" where the convulsive collocution between Bernhard and Lakonia furtively focuses on the marital malaise and amicable ability of a loving relationship; all the while the guitars have such a hardy harmony. The keyboards played by Harry Oellers unlock the mysteries of this music without ever upstaging or usurping the driving guitar sound with too much symphonic suggestion. Andre' Hilgers' drum technique really resembles Stefan Schwarzmann and Uli Kusch. He knows when to speed up and rage, and when to relent in order to provide adequate room for guitar and vocal vicissitudes.
A song like "Icewind" has such a pummelling pace recalling the "Day After Tomorrow" and more matters of survival. This piece is power metal rolling with thunder ready to touch the rainbow. Nota Bene: O' Insaniae et Storytellerae diligaveris ex magistris! Through the eyes of darkness one begins to hear the arrival of the four horseman welcoming the dawn of Megiddo. An underlying current to this whole CD concentrates on kharmic retribution and the dance with the dead. Scrupulous scrutiny and exegesis unveils a detailed story involving the listener in a divine dichotomy, exhorting him to become more proactive in his everday decisions to contend with his inner guidance lest he be lost in love with lady moon in wonderland preparing to perish in paradise wondering will God remember me on the battlefield of life?